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MirandaNet Fellowship Article
The Education Technology Landscape
by Christina Preston and Sarah Younie
Year of posting: 2012
The Education Technology Landscape
Britain has been a world leader in IT service and products for education since the early 1990s when the Learning Grid was the first national internet service for schools. BETT has been the international showcase for products and services and Becta was the international shop window for UK research. BETT continues to be a focus for potential global clients.
The key challenges for UK industry in 2014 are to:
- generate or respond to business opportunities internationally;
- encouraging those seeking system change to look to the UK and facilitating the UK response;
- Increasing the involvement of third country collaboration;
- working with global players.
However, since the demise of Becta it is more difficult for educators abroad to know where to access reliable and trustworthy UK information about classroom practice and research in the use of digital products to improve learning. teaching and administration. Our particular concern is the limited availability of quality CPD in digital technologies across the country, especially now that computing has been introduced as a curriculum component. As far as we know professional training is continuing the 2011 trend we identified in The Landscape for ICT CPD (1): to be localised and focused on the technical use of the product without the underpinning pedagogy and the ownership that our research suggests is essential in the effective uptake of digital tools. In addition, teachers have few channels where they can publish their knowledge and expertise to a wide audience and influence policy like the doctors do in the Cochrane review(2).
Mobilising the profession
One way for the education Industry to reach the profession and potential clients is to work through the existing professional organisations. We offer as an example, the MirandaNet Fellowship, established in 1992, that was the first Face Book for educators. The organisation, free to members, is modelled on a system of self-led improvement called a community of practice (3). In research terms communities of practice are seen as the best method of securing system led change.
The MirandaNet Fellowship now has nearly 1,000 members in more than 80 countries The visitors to the website show that there is sa global hunger from professionals and parents to know what works and what the research says. More than 850,000 pages are read each year of teachers’ varied publications and 6,000 unique visitors read up to 11 pages. Visitors often return. These figures show that the global demand from education professionals and policy makers is increasing for reliable information about classroom practice and research in the use of digital products to improve learning. Much of the MIrandaNet that is published research is funded by industry which also gives the teachers involved as co-researchers an important low cost professional development opportunity: the practical, grassroots-based ICatalyst programme for professional learning based on action research principles.
In terms of global connections especially third world collaborations, MirandaNet Fellows have developed iCatalyst systemic change projects using digital tools in places as far flung as Bulgaria, China, Chile, Czech Republic, England, Friesland, India, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. Many of these contacts have been made through BESA introductions. Each international MirandaNet chapter continues to link t the international MirandNet base where the language is English. We are seeing increasing interest from the BRIC countries and the USA: currently we are starting communities in Thailand and Pakistan. Some of the associate companies who have supported these action research projects in schools are: Apple, GroupCall, IRIS Connect, LightSpeed, Microsoft, Promethean, Oracle and Steljes. Current MirandaNet associates are: BrainPop. Brother, Engage, Follett, GroupCall, Iris Connect, LightSpeed, MERU and Tablet Academy. In support of the ICT industry MirandaNet will be running workshops for BESA, UKTI and MirandaNet companies that will help them to develop their international research and marketing base (see appendix). The new programme of seminars that are streamed witl be held at the London Knowledge Lab and resourced by Brother.
MirandaNet also has a partnership with to four innovative projects that can be used to improve UK industry collaboration with teachers and dissemination to international partners:
- Hands-On ICT: a free and open source environment we are developing in the EU LLL programme with partners in Greece, Slovenia, Spain and the Netherlands. The Hands-On ICT environment could be a host for teacher-designed modules and case studies in the practice and pedagogy surrounding UK products and services. It will be another source of dissemination for materials testing UK products and services that are quality assured by teachers;
- The Learning Designer project that provides teachers with a template for publication that is based on many years of classroom investigation by Professor Diana Laurillard and her team at The London Knowledge Lab;
- The MESH Guides project led by Professor Marilyn Leask at the University of Bedfordshire where teachers can contribute their case studies to pathways that are used to reach professional judgements on the current evidence in the same way that the doctors use the Cochrane review
- INGOTS accreditation that In tune with our research into action research provides free optional tools and flexible systems for teacher trainers so that they can decide the best way to motivate the teachers. This system is achieved within the nationally recognised qualifications systems including performance points and is endorsed by the DfE.
- Pachler, N, C. Preston, J. Cuthell, A. Allen and Pinheiro Torres (2011) The ICT CPD Landscape in England, Becta.
- Cochrane research reviews http://www.cochrane.org/cochrane-reviews
- Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hands-On ICT Project http://handsonict.eu
Learning Designer https://sites.google.com/a/lkl.ac.uk/ldse/
MirandaNet Fellowship www.mirandanet.ac.uk
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